This was made in memory of Julia Wright Gervais (April 1932-January 2008). She was the mother of 3 children including my step-father, Choya, and the receptionist at the doctor's office my mother took me to as an infant. She was the first woman to be licensed to navigate the ship channel. Diagnosed with cancer and given 6 months to live, she made it for another 19.
Work to build this set started shortly after she passed away. Choya wanted to make something in his mother's memory and he thought that a birth year set like this one would be the best way to do that. This set was originally the only one he wanted but he decided to expand the collection to include the birth year mint sets for all of the family members. This set was the one he wanted the most, it was the most important to him, and it remains the core of the collection that we built.
Choya came to me to talk about his idea and ask if I’d be willing to help him build the sets. I was more than happy to help but, after that initial conversation, we had to wait approximately 3 months before funds would be available to start buying coins. This period became my time to do research on the set and the coins. Before we ever looked into buying a single coin, this was going to be a carefully planned set.
From the start I wanted to try to make this set as strong as possible, but I also knew that my step-father would have a bit of sticker-shock over the costs of the set. He was open to the idea of building a very strong set though and he understood that it wouldn’t be cheap; but I knew he wasn’t going to be expecting some of the numbers I was going to give him. We didn't go with all the highest grades we could have for some coins in building this set. We felt it better to get the set built (without completely decimating the bank accounts) and consider improvements later, but every coin in the set is very good and they combine to make a wonderful set.
As an additional tribute to a woman who always excelled, I wanted this set to vie for the #1 spot and do so in its first year. To meet this goal, I worked hard to find the right coins and the set was substantially complete in only about 6 months. Since the set only has about half a dozen coins, even this time table allowed plenty of time to find the right coins and discuss each coin with Choya before making a selection. The goal was achieved and this set took the #1 spot in the category in time for the 2008 registry awards.
The set has been sitting at 85% complete for more than a year now. The acquisition of a 1932 double eagle is a major collecting and financial challenge. Even a lower grade example can cost as much or more than a new car. We remain hopeful that one day we will be able to acquire a double eagle for this set, but that is a decidedly long term goal.
1932 is also the birth year for Choya’s father. Hopefully he'll be with us for several years to come yet.